My Anxious Mind
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
My anxious mind always assumes the worst. Without warning, it tells me something terrible has happened or is going to happen.
I'm not sure when my anxiety started. I can't pinpoint a time and luckily I don't suffer from full blown panic attacks.
From the outside I can look completely "normal" and happy.
For me anxiety shows up as negative thoughts that I can't control. I become fixated on whatever it is that is making me anxious, my heart races, I feel an overwhelming sense of uneasiness, worry or panic and if it's night time... there is no way I can sleep.
I get anxious about being late for things, especially when travel is involved...I prefer to be in the airport/train station early so that I can relax knowing there is no way I'm missing my flight/train. I once arrived at Gatwick Airport 6 hours before my flight to Rarotonga!
That's fine though right? Because I was getting a coach to the airport... coaches often break down... or get flat tyres... and then they'd have to send a replacement...and maybe that would break down too?!
It doesn't end there. I can't properly relax until I'm sat in the departure lounge and know which gate my flight leaves from. Friends laugh at me, but I am much happier sitting in the airport than stressing out about being late!
I also get anxious about bad things happening to my friends or loved ones...
When Sam and I were in New Zealand he went off at around 5am and said he'd be back by 10am so we could check out of our accomodation. When he didn't turn up my anxious mind went into overdrive. 10am came and went with no sign of him. By 11am I was really panicking. I had tried calling him and had sent several texts but had not heard back. I started convincing myself that he had maybe had a car accident, or that something terrible had happened while he was surfing.
I called one of my best friends back in the UK (shoutout to Ruby) and cried down the phone to her. I told her all of the horrible things that I thought had happened and wouldn't listen to her rational advice. When I'm having an "episode" like that there is no reasoning with me.
Of course he was fine, he swanned in at 12pm and had been so late as the surf was pumping! I burst into tears...first of all I was livid but that quickly changed to relief that he was alive and well.
If you follow me on Instagram, are friends with me on Facebook or subscribe to my blog you'll know that something pretty terrible happened to Sam and I a month ago. Something that I am still coming to terms with. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
I have definitely been affected by what happened to us and it certainly hasn't helped my anxiety.
My heart starts racing when I see someone riding a motorcycle with their face completely covered. It reminds me of the man with the scarf covering his face. Most mornings I go down and walk while Sam surfs. The beach is beautiful and pretty much deserted. I walk the length of the beach and then round a corner where I disappear out of sight of the main beach. This is where I start to get an overwhelming sense of uneasiness. I worry that someone is going to appear from the bushes with a gun...just like they did at the waterfall. Sometimes I can calm my anxious mind down and walk further but most times I have to quickly turn around and head back to where I can be seen.
From the articles I have read and people I have spoken to anxiety seems to be very common. According to the Mental Health Foundation, in 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK! And that's just the cases that were actually reported!! I believe there would be a lot more cases, but people are often too scared to talk about it as there is still a stigma attached to mental health.
Up until recently I haven't really discussed it with anyone. I would always make excuses to myself like I was overreacting or worrying over nothing.
Just before we left to on our travels I was feeling so anxious about the flight that I went to see my GP. I remember being so nervous sitting in the waiting room. I thought she was going to think I was crazy, that I was a time waster or that I was just being silly. I couldn't have been more wrong! She listened to me and was so understanding. She recommended that I try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy when I get home and in the meantime prescribed me with Diazepam.
The Diazepam was a good quick fix that worked well leading up to my flight, however I would rather use methods that don't involve prescription drugs.
Personally I have found that yoga and meditation helps me as well as slowing my breathing down. If the location is suitable I will try and sit and practice Nadi Shuddhi (alternate nostril breathing) which is a great distraction from my thoughts as I have to concentrate.
Once I have completely calmed down and am out of my anxious episode I feel like a different person, the real me. All the negative thoughts and feelings evaporate and sometimes I can't even remember what I was so anxious about.
Do you suffer from anxiety? What tools do you use to fight back / overcome your anxiety? I would love to hear from you!